Ya Mama’s favorite children’s books to get your kids reading

By Bessma Bader

I believe that the most significant indicator of whether a child will become a reader is if their parents read. If they see us holding books and they have books readily available, it is likely they too will see reading as an incredibly adventurous way to spend their time.

One of the first things I buy for my children (before they are even born) is their first library. It will grow as they do.

Here, I have chosen one of my favourite books for each age group from birth up to the teenage years:


A baby surrounded by books

0-1 years

Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathman
The genius of this book is that it has so few words. The story is told mainly through the bold illustrations, with each page containing just a word or two. My personal favourite is the one where the animals are all saying good night – I get to use different voices for all the animals, and it always makes my children laugh.

1-3 years

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
I could recite this book to you word for word. It is my favourite board book, and I read it to all my children. They love finding all the items in this beautiful, classically illustrated book.


Pile of books

3-5 years

Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
I love a book with rhythm, and this is one of my favourite books to read out loud. It’s a snapshot of a little boy with an incredible imagination who gets sent to his room for being a “wild thing”. It was made into a beautiful movie. 

5-7 years

Where The Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
This is a book of poems. Poems that are almost nonsensical and full of wisdom and humour. An absolute pleasure to read out loud! 

Roald Dahl books

7-9 years

The BFG by Roald Dahl (or any Roald Dahl books)
Literally pick any one and read it, and you will love it! I picked this one because it’s one of my favourites, but so is Matilda, and The Witches. All three were turned into memorable movies. I find children get excited to read books they can watch the film version of, as well. 

10-12 years

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Neil is my favourite author. And while this book is dark, it is absolutely wonderfully so. It’s the story of Nobody Owens who is adopted and raised by ghosts in a cemetery.


Boy reading a book / Shutterstock

13+ years

The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
I read all three of these cover-to-cover a few years ago (and I was well past my teens). Fantastic characters, incredible descriptions of a post-apocalyptic world in which children from the 12 different districts are chosen to compete in the Hunger Games where only one can come out alive. Dark and political. Amazing series.

Final word…

Remember to always read the books you enjoy to your children. If you are forcing yourself to read it, they will know. It’s as much for you as it is for them. And each one of these books is on my personal favourite list!


About the author

Bessma bint Bader is an avid blogger and qualified parenting coach with a passionate interest in child development and education. She began her popular blog, Ya Mamma, in 2010 where she shares pertinent insights into the trials and tribulations of parenting, inspired by her five young children. 

Since 2010, Bessma has been on the board of Saut as its treasurer – a charitable organization that promotes the welfare of people with Downs Syndrome. She is also on the board of the King Khaled Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the social and economic conditions for thousands of Saudi citizens. 

Bessma is also the co-founder and owner of The Playroom – a play center in Riyadh, built around the belief that child-led play fosters creativity, encourages divergent thinking and builds good social skills.

Image credits: Shutterstock

1 Comment

  1. Nouf M

    Thank you for sharing , my kids are excited to read the books , specially Matilda .

Submit a Comment

Powered by Google Translate